Kanji for Muryoko

'Infinite Light'

Journal of Shin Buddhism

Harold Stewart



Until modern times, the Far Eastern attitude, which derived from the primordial Chinese Tradition as preserved by Taoism, was one of non-interference with the presently developing processes of nature. Events were allowed to happen while waiting patiently to see what direction they were about to take; and then, if favourable, co-operating with them, or if unfavourable, holding aloof from participation as far as possible. After consulting the I Ching (Japanese: Eki-kyo), or Classic of Changes, and its commentaries, appropriate action was taken only at the opportune moment and on the right occasion. For what at first sight appears to be good fortune may ultimately prove to be to our detriment; whilst what seems bad fortune at the outset, may eventually turn out to be to our advantage.

We sometimes learn more from adversity and our enemies than from prosperity and our friends. This ancient attitude, which still survives residually today among those unmodernized Far Eastern peoples who have not wholly succumbed to the Western cult of action for action's sake, shows a reverence for Reality, a respect for the alternating rhythm of the negative, or Yin, and the positive, or Yang, phases of cosmic change and the conversion of each into its opposite. Such prudence based on Metaphysical principles should not be misconstrued either as selfish opportunism or as lazy laissez-faire, as most Occidentals who are committed to a mania for meddling based on moral dualism may be tempted to do. Since we would rather prejudge in obedience to our doctrinaire ideologies and moralistic dogmas, we imprudently and prematurely interfere with spontaneity, only to discover too late, and to our chagrin, that our proposed improvements on nature all turn out for the worse.

This passing of censorious judgements on people, actions, events, and things, the popular fault of vain complaint, is what Seng-ts'an, Third Patriarch of the Ch'an sect in China, called the great disease of the mind. It rarely, if ever, furthers insight or understanding because 'There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so'. Exactly the same happening may be good for one being and bad for another. If I venture into the jungle alone and am devoured by a tiger, I die a horrible death but the tiger enjoys a nourishing meal. What point is there in debating whether this event is essentially good or bad, when it is simultaneously both?

Reflections on the Dharma - Harold Stewart

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